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Meet One of Holland Bloorview's Longest-Serving Nurses

Cindy Ruelens is one of Holland Bloorview’s longest-serving nurses. We talked to her about how nursing has changed since she got started, and how care for children with disabilities has evolved.

How long have you been a nurse? How long at Holland Bloorview?

I have been in the nursing profession for 40 years at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and have experienced many changes during that time. 

What is it about nursing that you love most?

What I value the most is how nursing contributes to the health of our clients and also act as change agents and advocates for the clients and families we serve.

Over my career Holland Bloorview, I have grown as a nurse and as a person. I have had the privilege to work and learn from amazing families, clients, colleagues, mentors, inter-disciplinary teams, and develop partnerships with external community providers and stake-holders. These interactions have shaped and influenced me being the nurse that I am today. 

How has nursing care changed over the years?

Nursing is a rewarding career that has evolved in new and exciting ways. What stands out for me the most are the changes to nursing, technology, and changes to nursing scope of practice.

Care has definitely changed over the years. I have seen changes with moving from a primary care nurse model to a primary nursing team approach and working within interprofessional teams. I’ve also seen changes in the clients we serve. They are much more complex, technology dependent, and have a higher awareness.

I have also noticed over the years the impact of societal influences, regarding the values and philosophies embracing children with disabilities – moving from exclusion to inclusion. How we interact with families have also shifted, one from a deficits model to family centered and strength based nursing approach.

Strength based nursing is embedded in our approach to families and I feel we have implemented this approach in many avenues here at Holland Bloorview. Not only do we use this in day-to-day practice and interaction with working with our clients and families, but we embrace the philosophy during our family team meetings by providing a positive approach in sharing our information with the families.

What’s the hardest part about being a nurse?  

My nursing role has changed from bedside care to transition coordinator, where I help families when they are discharged from the hospital. One of the challenging aspects of my role now is to ensure a timely discharge with the most appropriate community supports and resources for our clients and families. The resources or services that are available for our families vary in each region of the province and this also adds a layer of challenges to discharge process for me when I am searching for supports for our families.

But I feel the driving force to our profession is the simple attribute of caring and being compassionate. Knowing that I provided a positive influence in a child’s rehab journey has been the best reward that I could receive. This is the reason that I continue to be so passionate about nursing here at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.